Doggone it! Readers concerned about the fondness of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for the dogs of war -- any old war at all, even if it involved burning down the White House 200 years ago -- may want to prepare themselves by sitting down for this news.
Or, let me put that another way: SIT!
It sort of sounds, people (and I use that term very broadly), as if on the military file this government has now gone ape, barking, bats, batty, bird-brained, cuckoo, mad as a March hare, squirrelly … Do I really need to include everything on this list to get the idea across?
Or, to put this with no pussyfooting around in the warlike terms that appeal to these Harperite dumb bunnies, they have gone completely over the top!
I mean, really, how else are we to explain that they’ve given nearly $100,000 of our hard-earned tax money, the kind their supporters are usually whining about spending on fripperies like environmental impact studies, public health care and long-form census questions, on something called the "Animals in War Dedication Project," which aims to “to honour animals who've served in war alongside our Veterans."
I’m not making this up. Just war dogs -- never mind the war horses, war mules, war elephants, war pigeons, war goats, war cats (in the enemy pigeon house) and war chickens (oh, wait, file that last one under "Force, Air, Canadian, Royal, Moral fibre, Lack of …") -- "worked as messengers, medical assistants, mine detectors and in search and rescue." (Please don’t go bringing up the war sheep just now, alright?)
What's more, according to the news release published Saturday by Veterans Affairs Canada -- and the rumour is not true that the federal government is pondering changing this to the Ministry of Veteran and Veterinary Affairs -- "dogs are still employed by the Canadian Armed Forces today."
What they don't tell you in the release, unfortunately, is that the dogs in question are all working in military intelligence….
No, I take that back. If they'd had a couple of Border Collies watching the doors at HMCS Trinity -- the dockside naval intelligence centre in Halifax so secret that even the CBC knows its street address, and now the Russians do too -- Sub.-Lieut. Jeffrey Delisle never would have managed to smuggle out our top secrets on a floppy disk and sell them to the Glavnoye Razvedyvatel’noye Upravleniye. (If you can say that, fast, you're getting a visit from CSIS.)
Unfortunately, though, the Golden Retriever they had working at the front desk at Trinity was a nice guy, none too swift, not exactly like a dog with a bone. Just wagged his tail and let anyone in who would offer him a Kibble! He never collared anybody…
Where was I?
OK, look, I know that in the great scheme of things -- the way "restraint" minded "conservative" governments like to piss away our money on military monkey business -- $100,000 wouldn't even pay to retread the tire from an F-35. I mean, seriously people (and pets), this is an aircraft that it costs a million dollars and requires a new paint job just to change a sparkplug and pour in a quart of oil! And God help the deficit if they find snakes on that plane!
Just the same, you’ve got to wonder about the mentality of a group of people who would put out a press release telling the public they managed to persuade a couple of members of Parliament, one of them a minister of the Crown, an actual brigadier-general, the top dog of the National Capital Commission, a couple of hardy chipmunks with their cheeks full of acorns and the prime minister's wife to come out to a chilly Ottawa park barely a week before Remembrance Day to unveil "a dedication to honour animals who served alongside their human comrades in war."
"The dedication," according to the press release, "consists of three interpretative plaques explaining the roles played by animals during past wars. A bronze statue of a medical service dog stands nearby." Well, for 100 grand, it had better be big -- and if it's made of bronze, it needs to be firmly secured.
"As a tribute to the efforts of animals who served during crucial battles, we honour their unwavering loyalty, dedicated service, and strong companionship during difficult times," said Minister Blaney. … Yeah, right. Like they had any choice! They were wearing bridles and leashes for crying out loud!
I’m still not making this up, by the way. I lifted most of that last line right off the press release without attribution, just like I was a columnist for the Globe and Mail -- which, of course, I'm not. Otherwise I'd be writing about what a rotten guy Barack Obama is and how if Canadians had any sense at all they'd be praying to God in Heaven (or on Kolob, whatever) for Mitt Romney to get elected tomorrow. (I’m not making that up either, unfortunately. Any of it.) Cut and paste, baby!
"This dedication in Canada's Capital Region will help Canadians discover the contributions of animals in war," said Russell Mills, Chair of the NCC. "The National Capital Commission is pleased to add these artistic and interpretive elements next to the South African War Memorial in Confederation Park."
And it's a military historical fact, bizarrely not mentioned in the otherwise excellent news release, that the symbol of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, worn on their hats to this very day, is a springbok, a medium-sized gazelle of southwestern Africa, dating back to the Second Boer War, the very same war mentioned on the South African War Memorial in Confederation Park, the one right next to the new brass statue of the dog! Isn't that just the neatest thing?
I forget what the springboks did, though, to help our brave Canadian Dragoons. Probably something to do with lunch. Last thing they said to each other, no doubt, before they went into the stew pot was, "Here be Dragoons!"
"With this dedication, we have ensured that the efforts and sacrifices of animals in war will be recognized today and in the future," said Lloyd Swick, who was apparently in the park as well on Saturday and who is founder of the Animals in War Dedication Project.
This is of course a load of horse pucky, although I say this respectfully. Unfortunately, it won't stop there. The next thing you know -- just like the bloody Merchant Navy vets -- Canada's war dogs, mules, horses, chickens, monkeys and Vancouver Island hairy marmots are all going to start lobbying for vet benefits (and if you don't know how high vet bills can be, you don't want to find out) not to mention medals. After that, the ships' cats are bound to want in too. The bloody ships' parrots next, probably. And they never shut up! After that, it'll be the coalmine canaries (strategic, essential, home-front duty, doncha know….) You get the picture.
Then some nut will want to erect a monument to Canada's war insects -- keeping the battlefield clean since 1812! It’ll never bloody end, and I’m not making that up. And we haven't even started to talk about germ warfare.
Now, to be fair, I have to admit there is not complete unanimity even in this household about this issue. Riley Climenhaga, who is a member of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and several other similar right-wing groups, does not agree.
But then, what do you expect? He's a freakin’ Bichon-Shitzu, for crying out loud! Of course he's going to take the side of Canada's war dogs!
Jackasses every one of them!
Mrs. Laureen Harper is the Honorary Patron of the Animals in War Dedication Project. Did I mention I wasn't making any of this up?
Where are the media jackals when you need them?
IMPORTANT NOTE: No animals were harmed in the composition of this blog post, which also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.